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Joseph Williams: Hunger Strike Games

This college football player insisted the University of Virginia invest in living wages for its employees, not new sports enhancements.

Joseph WilliamsTaking his game off the field and into the community, University of Virginia football player Joseph Williams went on a hunger strike to support a campaign for living wages by university service employees. 

Williams was appalled to learn the university planned to spend millions on sports enhancements, like a domed practice field, when many university employees can’t afford basics. He attributes his concern about social inequality partly to his family’s experience of homelessness. When Williams was young, they moved more than 30 times, sometimes staying in shelters and church basements. 

The only football player to join the student-led hunger strike, Williams sees the action as part of his role as an athlete. “Because of the ‘pedestal’ status we often receive,” he said, “I think we can use that to serve our community.” After completing his degree in political and social thought, Williams plans to work toward a master’s in public policy.


Heidi BruceHeidi Bruce wrote this article for Making it Home, the Summer 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Heidi is an intern at YES!

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